Morning Joe is a weekday NBC News morning news and talk show, airing from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on the network's cable news channel MSNBC. It features former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough providing both reporting and discussion on the news of the day in a panel format with co-hosts Mika Brzezinski (Scarborough's wife since Nov 2018) and Willie Geist, among others.
Morning Joe began as a fill-in program after Don Imus' Imus in the Morning was canceled. Former Florida Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, then host of the primetime MSNBC program Scarborough Country, suggested the idea of doing a morning show instead. He put together what would become Morning Joe with Scarborough Country executive producer Chris Licht and screenwriter John Ridley. On April 9, 2007, the show debuted as one of a series of rotating programs auditioning for Imus's former slot, with Scarborough joined by co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Ridley. Scarborough had personally asked Brzezinski to co-host with him the night before the first audition, while she was a "cut-in" presenter during MSNBC's primetime schedule on a freelance basis.
Ridley quickly dropped out as main co-host but continued as a regular guest, while Willie Geist was tapped as co-host. The program permanently took over the slot in July 2007, though the decision was not officially announced until October that year.
During the first quarter of 2009, Morning Joe earned higher ratings in the age 25-54 demo category than CNN's competing program, American Morning. It still had fewer viewers overall. Both programs finished behind Fox News's Fox & Friends during the same time period.
Morning Joe continues to regularly place second in total viewers and younger demographic to Fox & Friends, ahead of other cable news competitors including CNN's New Day. However, Morning Joe, like MSNBC overall, ranked behind CNN's counterpart programming during short stints in 2013.
In May 2017, for the first time in the program's history, Morning Joe attracted an average of over 1 million daily total viewers for the month.
WABC radio edition
A radio version debuted in December 2008, carried on WABC in New York City and other Citadel Media owned and operated stations. Scarborough and Brzezinski host this version, which also replays highlights from the day's television show. For legal reasons, this version is called The Joe Scarborough Show. Scarborough claims that, at least on WABC, the show beat the Glenn Beck Program in the New York City radio market's Arbitron ratings. However, despite acceptable ratings, the radio version was put on hiatus in April 2010. Scarborough intends to bring back the show in a revised three-hour version at an undisclosed time in the future.
Way Too Early
On July 27, 2009, Willie Geist began hosting a new 30-minute show, Way Too Early with Willie Geist. It aired on MSNBC at 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time as a lead-in to Morning Joe. Geist left the program in October 2012 when he co-hosted the third hour of NBC's Today. He is currently a co-host of Morning Joe.
Morning Joe First Look
On August 8, 2016, the existing early morning program First Look airing at 5:00 a.m. was expanded into the former timeslot of Way Too Early and retitled Morning Joe First Look, retaining segments from the latter program and presumably to feature some continuity with Morning Joe itself.
Pat Buchanan, past co-host of CNN's Crossfire and MSNBC's Buchanan and Press. A former presidential candidate and an MSNBC on-air personality since 2002, Buchanan was suspended by the network in October 2011, following the publication of his book Suicide of a Superpower. Four months later, MSNBC severed its relationship with Buchanan.
Erin Burnett, CNN and past CNBC anchor. In her role as anchor on CNBC's Squawk on the Street, Burnett regularly contributed as the correspondent during the daily 8:30 "Business Before the Bell" segment. She left CNBC for an anchor position at CNN in May 2011. Scarborough habitually introduced Burnett with the nickname "International Superstar."
Mark Haines, the late co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk on the Street. Haines filled in for his co-anchor Erin Burnett on several occasions for the "Business Before the Bell" segment. He briefly took it over after her departure from CNBC until his death on May 24, 2011.
Courtney Hazlett, MSNBC entertainment correspondent and author of "The Scoop" column and blog featured on msnbc.com. From October 2007 through to July 2009, the show's next-to-last segment regularly featured Hazlett and co-host Willie Geist discussing her latest column. The segment, titled Morning Scoop, was sponsored by L'Oréal, whose ad spots continued for several weeks after it had been effectively discontinued. No official announcement or explanation was given regarding the decision to drop Hazlett from the show. She remains a contributor to the msnbc.com website and other MSNBC programs.
Fred Roggin, KNBC-TV sports anchor. Between 2007 and 2010, Roggin contributed a taped sports scores and highlight recap for "The Sideline" and "Morning Sports Shot" segments during the 6:00 hour. Co-host Willie Geist gradually took over the segment in 2010.
Sam Tanenhaus, senior editor of the New York Times Book Review. Between April 2009 and March 2010, Tanenhaus would appear on either the Thursday or Friday show to preview the New York Times Book Review's forthcoming issue.
Morning Joe Moment - during August 2009, this was briefly the replacement for Courtney Hazlett and the Morning Scoop. It featured a host replaying his or her favorite moment from the day's show.
On January 9, 2008, the morning after Hillary Clinton's surprise victory in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, Matthews appeared on the show and said of Clinton,
"I'll be brutal, the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit."
On November 10, 2008, Scarborough read the word "fuck" on air while reading from a story about then-President-elect Obama's incoming Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Once he realized his mistake, Scarborough repeatedly apologized for his slip of the tongue, and explained that he had meant to say "the F word" instead. The next day, MSNBC instituted a seven-second delay for Morning Joe.
In another incident on June 29, 2011, then Timeeditor-at-largeMark Halperin commented that the president came off as "kind of a dick" during the previous day's press conference. The word aired uncensored, despite the seven-second delay, when a producer failed to press the button that would have "bleeped" it. Halperin issued an on-air apology immediately following a commercial break. The White House subsequently complained to MSNBC about Halperin's remarks, and on June 30, 2011, Halperin was temporarily suspended from appearing on MSNBC for "slurring" the President. He returned as a guest a couple of weeks later.
On December 30, 2008, Brzezinski's father and former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski appeared as a guest to discuss the unfolding Israel-Palestine crisis. Scarborough stated that Yasser Arafat was offered everything he wanted at the 2000 Camp David Summit. This statement provoked Zbigniew to reply, "You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you." Subsequently, the phrase "stunningly superficial" has become something of a running gag on the show.
Beginning on June 1, 2009, Morning Joe was presented as "Brewed by Starbucks," with the sponsor's logo incorporated into the show's logo. Although the hosts previously consumed Starbucks coffee on air "for free," in the words of MSNBC president Phil Griffin, it was not paid placement at that time. The Starbucks sponsorship of Morning Joe ended in 2013.
Feud with Jon Stewart
On June 3, 2009, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart mocked the Starbucks sponsorship of the program, showing several clips of the Morning Joe cast prominently displaying and complimenting Starbucks products as well as an interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Scarborough responded that his intent in discussing the sponsorship was sarcastic, and he suggested that Stewart and his "90 writers" did not understand the joke. On June 8, Stewart feigned embarrassment over missing their alleged sarcasm, claiming, "At the time, I thought your jokey manner was just a way of sublimating your shame over the discomfort you feel deep in your soul after extinguishing the last smoldering embers of any of your program's journalistic bona fides. But now, I realize that that wasn't the case!" On June 9, Scarborough fired back, referring to Stewart as "a very, very angry guy with a Napoleonic complex." The next day, Stewart and correspondent John Oliver again responded with a skit, involving Stewart impersonating Napoleon and Oliver impersonating an even shorter Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. After the routine, Stewart joked that he hoped that this would be the end of the feud, since continuing it was becoming expensive for the show.
Clash with Rush Limbaugh
During the Obama administration, Joe Scarborough sought to distance himself from certain elements in the Republican Party. He criticized Republicans such as Rush Limbaugh who celebrated President Obama's failed bid to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago saying that "Republicans have gone off the deep end." On the October 8, 2009 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh fired back by saying that Scarborough was "doing his best impression of [...] a neutered chickified moderate." Scarborough responded the next day on Morning Joe, faulting Limbaugh for uncritical loyalty to George W. Bush during the president's tenure in office. Scarborough specifically said that Limbaugh had put his "testicles in a blind trust for George W. Bush for eight years."
Russell Brand Interview
The Morning Joe interview with actor and comedian Russell Brand, a segment in the episode that aired on June 17, 2013, went viral on the internet. He was there to promote his forthcoming stand-up comedy tour "The Messiah Complex". After the three interviewers (host Mika Brzezinski and contributors Katty Kay and Brian Shactman) repeatedly intercut the interview with personal observations of their guest -- bantering among themselves whether they were able to understand his accent, referring to him in the third person, and calling him "Willy" -- Brand protested at being talked about "as if he wasn't present and (as if he was) an extraterrestrial" before taking the interview over with a scathing commentary on what he perceived as a lack of professionalism and manners demonstrated by the interviewers. He appeared to confuse them with his direct, plain-speaking rebuke. In a final apparent attempt to offer an olive branch of humor to Brzezinski, Brand quipped "this woman is a shaft grasper" after she appeared to nervously stroke her water bottle.
Relationship with Donald Trump
Early in 2016, the show and its hosts were criticized for their support to then-candidate Donald Trump; Matt Taibbi described the hosts as "lapdogs" and their relationship as "brown-nosing". The criticism was further exacerbated by a hot mic recording published by Harry Shearer on his podcast, where Scarborough and Brzezinski discuss with Trump the positive coverage of him, and the possible questions the candidate could get in their upcoming interview.
In late June 2017, a conflict erupted between the hosts of Morning Joe and President Trump. On the morning of June 29, the president posted a series of tweets mocking Scarborough and Brzezinski, with his comments about the latter widely condemned as misogynistic. The hosts responded with an op-ed in the Washington Post, in which they described White House officials warning them of a negative article that would be published in the National Enquirer if they refused to apologize for their coverage of Trump. Although the initial tweets received negative responses from both Republican politicians and political commentators including Speaker of the HousePaul Ryan, Trump retaliated on July 1 with another tweet describing Scarborough as "crazy" and Brzezinski as "dumb as a rock."